Visualizing the distribution and transport of mRNAs in living cells

Diana P. Bratu, Byeong Jik Cha, Musa M. Mhlanga, Fred Russell Kramer, Sanjay Tyagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

332 Scopus citations


We have visualized the movements of native mRNAs in living cells. Using nuclease-resistant molecular beacons, we imaged the transport and localization of oskar mRNA in Drosophila melanogaster oocytes. When the localization pattern was altered by genetic manipulation of the mRNA's 3′ untranslated region, or by chemical perturbation of the intracellular tubulin network, the distribution of the fluorescence signals changed accordingly. We tracked the migration of oskar mRNA in real time, from the nurse cells where it is produced to the posterior cortex of the oocyte where it is localized. Our observations reveal the presence of a transient, and heretofore elusive, stage in the transport of oskar mRNA. Direct visualization of specific mRNAs in living cells with molecular beacons will accelerate studies of intracellular RNA trafficking and localization, just as the use of green fluorescent protein has stimulated the study of specific proteins in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13308-13313
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 11 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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